Nov. 18, 2011
Rice senior linebacker Matt Nordstrom is one of 50 players who have been nominated for the second annual Bulsworth Trophy, which is presented by the Springdale (Ark.) Rotary Club to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on.
A walk-on is defined as a player who began his first season of participation with a D1 (FBS) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university's athletic department.
Nordstrom has been credited with a career-high 23 tackles heading into the final two week of his college career, compiling tackles both on special teams and at linebacker.
He originally walked on with the Owls in 2007 after graduating from Rochester (MI) High School in 2007. Nordstrom contacted the Owls' coaching staff late in the recruiting process after learning his father had been transferred to the Houston area for work. The valedictorian of his senior class in addition to an all conference performer on the field, Nordstrom was a redshirt in the fall of 2007 and made his debut with the Owls on special teams in 2008.
He was thrust into a starting role early in the 2009 season after injuries struck the Owls linebacker corps. He made his starting debut at Oklahoma State and made a total of four starts before he was injured.
The 2010 inaugural winner was Georgia Tech Center Sean Bedford. Out of high school, no Division I program offered him a scholarship, so he chose Georgia Tech for its outstanding academic reputation and its engineering program. Once there, he decided to walk on to the football team. He eventually became a two-time first team All-ACC selection and led the way for a rushing offense that ranked No. 1 in the entire nation. Sporting News named the aerospace engineering major one of the 20 smartest athletes in the nation.
The Trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without any Division 1 scholarship offer, Brandon walked on to the Razorbacks team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter, and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited
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